PREVENTION CONNECTION

April 2017

What's New in Prevention?

CONNECTICUT’S OPIOID CRISIS: Prevention Strategies

We have all seen the headlines – another overdose impacting another family in another community.  Connecticut remains in the midst of an opioid crisis.  No family, no school, no community goes untouched.  Recently released data from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner paints a sad picture. There were 917 overdose deaths in 2016, up from 729 the year before and more than double the number just four years ago.  In 2016, opioids were present in 541 overdose deaths.  While much focus has been placed on opioids, the data shows that benzodiazepines play a role as well. In nearly half of the overdoses linked to opioids, benzodiazepines were present.  Many prevention and treatment professionals have suggested that this may be the next crisis we face.  The 2015 Connecticut Youth Risk Behavior Survey revealed that 12% of high school students report misusing a prescription drug in the last 30 days.  That number was up from 11% two years prior. 

Prevention is key.  One of the best strategies to combat prescription drug abuse is to educate adults on proper medication storage and disposal.  We know that young people get prescription drugs right from the medicine cabinet, be it their own or that of friends and family.  Prevention strategies that adults should follow include:

  1. Secure your medications.  Securing medications keeps them accessible to those who need them while eliminating access for those who might abuse them. 
  2. Mark your calendar for Saturday, April 29, 2017, Prescription Drug Take Back Day. Use the upcoming Take Back Day as an opportunity to clean out your medicine cabinet and purge unused or expired medications. 
  3. Take your medications to one of the many Take Back Day sites in Connecticut or find a local drop box.  There are also suggestions in the Resources section of this newsletter for how to properly dispose medications in the event that someone cannot make it to Take Back Day or a drop box. 

Securing and properly disposing of medications reduces supply.  Education on the dangers of misusing prescription drugs will help to increase youth perception of harm.  When these strategies are combined with activities to help youth develop the skills needed to make healthy decisions, we will see these trends in youth prescription drug abuse reverse themselves. 

Click here for more information on Prescription Drug Take Back Day.  See below for additional resources.

Contact Kristen Granatek, Director of Prevention Initiatives at Kristen.Granatek@PreventionWorksCT.org for additional resources and technical assistance.

Read the next What's New in Prevention, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMSHA) Announces National Prevention Week: MAKING EACH DAY COUNT